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New program helping students growing up in poverty

Posted at 3:52 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 10:43:03-04

CLEVELAND — Whitney Young School serves students from Pre-K through 8th grade. However, many students and teachers are faced with a barrier they can’t climb without help.

Poverty drains many parent’s pockets and that prevents some from purchasing school supplies and uniforms.

“If you’ve never had this issue, you don’t think about it,” said teacher, Dannielle Jennings.

Jennings taught 25 students last year and said 10 were homeless. The issue creates a major distraction as students find it difficult to focus.

“Right now, we’re in a place where we’re struggling right now,” said parent Rosezetta Davison. “We have to just focus on what we have to do at home. Having this program is not just a blessing for me and my children; it’s a blessing for all.”

The program offering help is called Shoes and Clothes for Kids.

“About 1,000 kids a year, over the three years: grades k through three, and five CMSD schools,” said Shoes and Clothes for Kids director Terry Uhl.

The packages Uhl gives includes school supplies, two uniforms, underwear and a shoe voucher.

“They were running around the school and didn’t have any shoes on” said Jennings.

Students will get a new winter coat come colder weather.

“Any child that doesn’t make it to school 10 days a year, probably isn’t going to make it to the next grade,” said Uhl. “It’s clear that we may not have prioritized years ago, all the things that really were important.”

This story is part of A Better Land , an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here .